‘They Deserve a Stamp’ initiative urges the USPS to approve a stamp design, honoring the most-decorated military unit in U.S. history.
By P.C. Staff
Stamps tell a lot about parcels, packages and letters. Information on the tiny proof of payment can include the letter’s origin, whether it’s first class or express, as well as reflect the country’s national identity. Perhaps, the last point is especially important to a new campaign that is urging the United States Postal Service to approve a commemorative stamp to honor World War II Japanese American soldiers.
While the new initiative titled “They Deserve a Stamp” isn’t the first attempt to nominate this special group of veterans, organizers hope that this is the last effort to approve a stamp.
According to the U.S. Postal Service’s guidelines, the office “welcomes written suggestions for stamp subjects that help portray the diversity of the American experience for a worldwide audience.”
Approved stamp designs include Elvis Presley, penguins, the “Harry Potter” book characters and a list of vegetables, to name a few. This raised the question of why hasn’t there been a stamp issued for Japanese American WWII military units? It’s a group made up of roughly 33,000 Japanese American soldiers with more than 18,000 total military awards, 9,486 Purple Hearts, 30 Distinguished Services Crosses and 21 Medals of Honor.
“They fought for freedom abroad when their own government imprisoned their families at home. A stamp is the least we owe the brave Japanese American Soldiers of World War II,” wrote the “They Deserve a Stamp” initiative campaign on its website. “The fact it’s been denied this long is up to us to change,” and the group is asking individuals to help support the push “to make history for a group who helped write it.”
In February 2012, the Japanese American Veterans Assn. (JAVA) proposed that the USPS issue a commemorative stamp series. Then-JAVA president Gerald Yamada sent a letter to Chairwoman Jean Picker Firstenberg of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, who was in charge of reviewing and approving proposals.
Yamada wrote in his letter that “this stamp series would be for military groups that have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II and would include the Nisei Soldiers made up of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service.”
However, the stamp was never approved, and the effort continues today.
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jeff MacIntyre learned about the effort and quickly joined in the campaign by creating a video for the initiative in partnership with Go For Broke.
The Nisei veterans “deserve this honor, and we need to rally in support for this cause,” MacIntyre said. “This is an opportunity to educate those who many not know the Japanese American story because it is an American story.”
USPS criteria for stamps include designs that “help portray the diversity of the American experience” and subjects that “had significant impact on American history or culture.” This begs the question as to how the Nisei veterans do not meet those specific conditions.
While there are 11 eligibility guidelines for all stamp recommendations, the initiative feels that this group of veterans passes the test.
Those who are interested in supporting the “They Deserve a Stamp” effort can visit www.theydeserveastamp.org to be part of the campaign.